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Teaching and Learning with Mobile Technology: A Qualitative Explorative Study about the Introduction of Tablet Devices in Secondary Education

Publication details

Year: 2015
Issued: 2015
Language: English
Start Page: 1
End Page: 17
Editors: Andrew R. Dalby
Authors: Montrieux H.; Vanderlinde R.; Schellens T.; De Marez L.
Type: Journal article
Journal: PLoS ONE
Topics: Learning; Researching children online: methodology and ethics; Literacy and skills
Sample: 20 Flemish boys and 19 girls of age 11–14 and age 15–18 and 18 Flemish teachers who met the proposed criteria of equal gender, more-less years of experience and the course they give that used during a period of time of six months tablet devices in the classroom organisation
Implications For Educators About: School innovation; Professional development


This paper investigates teachers’ and students’ perceptions concerning the impact of using tablet devices for teaching and learning purposes. An explorative focus group study was conducted with teachers (n = 18) and students (n = 39) in a secondary school that has implemented tablet devices since 2012. The general finding of this study shows that the use of tablet devices in the classroom setting has an impact on both teaching and learning practices. The results suggest that teachers can be divided into two categories: the innovative teachers and the instrumental teachers. Innovative teachers attempt to shift from a teachercentered to a learning-centered approach. They have changed their teaching style by transforming lessons in accordance with the advantages tablet computers can offer. Instrumental teachers seem to use the device as a ‘book behind glass’. The distinction between the two groups has consequences for both the way courses are given and how students experience them. In general, the introduction of tablet devices entails a shift in the way students learn, as the devices provide interactive, media-rich, and exciting new environments. The results of this study indicate that policy makers should consider introducing technical and pedagogical support in order to facilitate both teachers’ and students’ understanding of the full potential of this kind of technology in education.


"Teachers are key to the success of the implementation of technology in schools. There are two types of teachers distinguished: “innovative teachers” that attempt to shift from a teacher-centred to a learning-centred innovative approach and “instrumental teachers” who appear to maintain the traditional way of teaching while using the tablet devices as instrument. So contrary to the overall intention of revolutionising education by introducing tablet devices, it often strengthened the old educational structures. The results confirmed that tablet devices comprise learning activities that were previously not possible like browing the Internet and using multimedia for a better understanding the course content. Both the students and (innovative) teachers remarked that the introduction of tablet devices entails a shift in learning, for which not all students are ready. Younger students appear to be more flexible in respect to learning through devices, while it seems difficult for older students to change their study habits. Additionally, the older students advise teachers to improve their didactical skills in order to master tablet devices. More attention should be paid to the (formal and informal) professional development of teachers to support them in this educational reformation and their feeling of being abandoned by publishers due to the lack of adequate teaching material appropriate for the tablet device. Therefore, there is a need for professionalization. The teacher’s role and competences are crucial to the success of this innovation; adapted teaching materials and equipment are essential in this respect. Aside from professionalization and the need for adapted teaching materials, teachers need time to become familiar with these new devices." (Montrieux et al., 2015, pp. 13-15)

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